The Rise of Online Therapy, and Mental Health Apps to Try in 2020
Online therapy. What do you picture when you hear those words? Ten years ago, you may have imagined an anonymous person on a message board or a know-it-all on Facebook giving you unsolicited or unhelpful mental health advice. This isn’t to say that real online therapy lead by licensed therapists didn’t exist, but it wasn’t as prominent as it is in our society today.
Currently, online therapy is now available to anyone with a computer or smart device, and the market is quite competitive today. You can find plenty of online therapy or mental health apps to give you some much needed relief whenever you’re dealing with the trials and tribulations about life. From learning more about yourself to getting encouragement to quit your job and start your own business, there are many reasons why seeking help from a therapist is a good move to make.
How it Works
Online therapy connects you with a certified therapist or counselor. With any app, you download, set up your payment plan, and you may take a questionnaire to help explain more about your mental health. Many of these apps are quite easy to use, whether you’re viewing them through a computer or through a phone.
These apps may use various forms of communication methods as well. There are some apps that may focus on video chatting, giving you the closest experience to a face-to-face you can have. There are other therapy apps that are more text based, making them great for on the go communication. With text, you can send your therapist a message at any time, but they may not be available to respond instantly unless you schedule a session. Some apps will have a balance of all methods of communication.
Using online therapy seems to be just as effective as traditional therapy. With the busy lifestyle of many people, it’s understandable why many people would choose online therapy. Getting out is costly, takes time, and depending on where you live or what your life situations are, may be a difficult task.
Does it Cost Anything?
With online therapy apps, they do cost money. You’re talking to a mental health professional, and those services aren’t free. However, because of the remote process, it does tend to be cheaper, and it tends to be a pay as you go service, meaning you can pay for a week or month, then cancel.
These apps tend to be quite transparent with how much you’re expected to pay. Sadly, most don’t take insurance, though the future may bring this. Tech moves fast, but in regards to insurance companies, they always move at a snail’s pace.
Some Apps to Check Out
With that said, what are some therapy apps that are worth downloading? Let’s look at a few.
BetterHelp is one of the biggest names in online therapy, and they’re one of the best apps for all general therapy needs. Not only is it an online therapy service, but it has many other pieces of informative content. You could spend hours reading its content and learning more about the mental health world. They have licensed therapists and counselors, all of which are available through mobile or desktop. Their therapy contains all the methods of communication you need, from text to video. With many satisfied patients, we think BetterHelp is at least worth checking out.
This is an app that is more focused on relationships. Other online mental health providers may have experience in giving you relationship advice and helping couples, but Regain is truly the biggest name in couples therapy.
Even the best couples have their problems. It’s important for couples to express their feelings and learn how to manage conflict better, as well as find out the root cause of all their problems. With Regain, the two of you can attend therapy sessions together, but you can also attend them solo as well. In fact, good couples therapy tends to use a combination of solo and together sessions.
Besides couples therapy, the therapists of Regain are great for treatment of various other mental health issues as well. For instance, you may be having relationship issues because of your depression. A Regain therapist works with your partner to help them understand your depression, while you work to improve your depression symptoms.
This is an app that has quite a bit of presence due to its various celebrity and television spots. It’s up there with Betterhelp as the biggest name in online therapy. What sets Talkspace apart is its algorithm, matching you up with a therapist that’s right for your situation. Algorithms can do some amazing things, including finding that one therapist out of thousands that’s right for you. It’s not always perfect, but the beauty of online therapy is that it’s easy to switch if you feel like the therapist isn’t the best fit.
As the name of this service implies, this is counseling for teenagers who are under 18. The teen years, particularly the early to mid teens, are filled with struggles. Your teen is growing, facing new challenges, and is worried about their future. They may be searching for their identity, or need help finding their purpose. The teen years are also home to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
If your teen attends school, there are school counselors, but they are often not equipped to handle all issues. A teen counselor can help your teenager. You, the parent, sign up for the website and tell the therapist what problems your teen has. Then, your teen speaks to them. Everything is confidential between the teen and the therapist unless they need an intervention.
With children and teens, it’s important to have a counselor or therapist who knows how to speak to them, and who can identify with their issues.
This is for members of the LGBTQ+ community. This community is always growing and facing new challenges. Even though there has been some progress with acceptance, many people in this community may be dealing with bullies, families who don’t want anything to do with them, online harassment, and discrimination.
Pride Counseling connects you with a therapist who is familiar with the LGBTQ+ community, and is a member of it.
Doctor on Demand
As the name implies, this app allows you to talk to a doctor for a free assessment. If you need urgent care, or are curious as to whether or not you should talk to a doctor about your depression or anxiety, Doctor on Demand is the solution for you.
Seven Cups of Tea
Just like a nice glass of herbal tea, Seven Cups of Tea is an awesome mental health service that connects you with peers who are going through the same problem. This allows for group support and to get some advice you didn’t think to do. Just put your information in, such as your goals, and it will connect you to some peers. You can also connect to a licensed therapist and speak to them, too.
Self-Care Mental Health Apps
Besides online therapy, there’s been a rise in self-care services as well. By self-care, we’re talking about people who use apps to meditate or to motivate.
Self-care apps are important because they show that technology, while it can cause some mental health woes can be used to negate the problems as well. For instance, too much time on your phone may make it hard to sleep. However, a mental health app that plays white noise, teaches you meditation, and tells you a boring story can help in the fight against sleepless nights. Some apps to try include:
Calm is one of the biggest names in mental health, it focuses on relaxation and rest. In today’s age of smartphones, people just aren’t sleeping as well as they used to. No amount of energy drinks or lattes can substitute a good night’s rest, but rest doesn’t come easy. Our lives are filled with stresses and worries, and it can be a tough cycle to break in regards to sleepless nights.
Plus, technology doesn’t help. If you don’t have any blue light filters on, the blue light can damage your melatonin, making it harder to sleep. Even then, the itch to check your notifications is quite strong.
That’s where Calm comes in. Calm is an app that allows you to relax. It does so through various methods, including:
- Bedtime stories. They aren’t just for kids! Hearing a relaxing, boring, visual, or gentle bedtime story can put you to bed. Focusing on the story and not your racing thoughts are just what the doctor ordered. From Bob Ross clips to stories narrated by celebrities, Calm has quite a bit.
- White noise. You probably know someone who just can’t sleep without a fan on. You may be that person. However, Calm has other white noise and nature sounds, such as rain, crickets, and other sounds to help you fall asleep.
- Mindful meditation. Mindfulness is another way you can fall asleep, granting you the ability to discard any racing or self-defeating thoughts. Besides rest and relaxation, mindfulness works wonders for other challenges in life, making Calm great not just for bedtime.
This app is similar to Calm, but it focuses more on the meditation side of things. Meditation is a versatile practice. Originally a concept in Eastern religion and philosophy, it’s used around the world by people of all walks of life, and for a good reason. Meditation is not only great for unwinding and for rest, but it works wonders for other challenges of life, such as anxiety, stress, depression, and decision making. With Headspace, encouraging you to explore your mind is normal, and it’s encouraged.
CBT Thought Diary
Sometimes, you don’t need to spend much on a mental health app. Instead, a simple diary app may be what you need. CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, is a scientifically proven method to help you improve your life. Many therapists use it, and you can learn it yourself as well. CBT involves recording your thoughts and learning to discard any unhelpful, self-defeating thoughts you may have. No matter how positive you are, there’s a chance that CBT can benefit you, improving your confidence tenfold and allowing you to get the help you need.
This app is a sleep tracker, using sensors and wearables to track your sleep. This app is based on sleep cycle theory, the idea where we go through cycles of deep and light sleep, and if you wake up while you’re in a lighter sleep, you will feel more refreshed. The app wakes you up when it’s the right time, and it tracks your sleep quality and other sleep habits, too. Best of all, it’s free.
Blue Light Filter
Blue light, which comes from the sun and devices, is notorious for preventing people from falling asleep. Too much blue light before bed may be the culprit, or one of the culprits, for your insomnia. The solution is to not use screens close to bedtime, but who does that? Some people like unwinding with a good show or funny YouTube videos before bed.
That’s where this app comes in handy. Most phones and devices do have a blue light filter or night mode option, but if you want something with even more protection, downloading this app can help.
Many of us have goals we want to reach for the new year, or perhaps we have a habit we want to break. Strides is the app to help do this. It’s a detailed goal tracker, turning your goals into chunks. Goals are much more doable when they’re broken down into smaller milestones, and Strides can help you do this.
Of course, talking to a counselor or therapist is one of the best ways to reach your goals, but if you want to try the self-discipline route, Strides is there for you.
The Future of Mental Health Tech
As technology progresses, it’s interesting to think what the future will bring for tech. Some mental health apps and online therapy providers may use even more tech to help their consumers.
For example, online therapy may start using VR, especially as it improves and becomes more immersive. With VR, someone who can’t leave their home can immerse themselves in a therapist’s office with a real licensed therapist, creating an experience like none other.
With health trackers becoming so advanced, we may see more advanced mental health trackers, giving more detailed stats and finding more solutions. Maybe someday, we’ll have apps that can pinpoint the exact reason why you can’t sleep and give you ways to fall asleep faster.
Whatever tech brings us, it’s going to be interesting to observe. Everything is changing at a fast pace, and with many mental health issues on the horizon, it’s going to be interesting to see what tech brings to solve them.
This is an app for Macs, and it helps improve your focus whenever you’re productive by blocking off any distracting websites. When your resolution is to be more productive, distracting websites can hinder things. While there are many apps out there, SelfControl works well because it’s easy to use and works even if you try to delete the app. With so many distractions out there, SelfControl is a great way to improve your focus and get stuff done.
Are They Worth it?
Most of these apps come at a price. Even the ones that have a free trial, or don’t use licensed therapists, may cost you a pretty penny. Apps like Calm, for example, may cost you $70 a year or so. Meanwhile, online therapy apps may charge you by the week or month. While it’s much more transparent than other forms of traditional counseling or therapy, some people may find that it’s not worth the price.
Sometimes, a free or cheap app may help you. Something as simple as playing white noise, which you can get for free with apps like YouTube, can be just what you need. It’s all about taking those first steps towards improving yourself, and by downloading a mental health app, you’re in the right step towards improving your life.
The fusion of mental health and tech has become quite interesting. For some, a quiet trip to the therapist or a walk outside may be the mental health relief they need, but for the tech junkie, there truly is an app for that. Download some of these apps if you want to start your 2020 off right. With the therapy apps, you are going to pay some money, but you may find that it’s worth it.
There’s no shame in speaking to a therapist and getting input from them. Therapy is for everyone in any situation, and if you’re someone who needs help, you deserve to get it. Talk to a therapist today and see if they’re right for you.
This article has been published in accordance with Socialnomics’s disclosure policy.